After work on Saturday there was a large trash bag lurking in the corner of my kitchen. Why, you may ask?
Pull it open to reveal… bread!
So on my first day of work at the bakery, I asked them what they did with leftover baked goods.
“Bread pudding!” was their reply. Awesome. It is also my favorite form of food recycling.
However. What they neglected to mention was that they put brioche, pan de yema, scones, and danishes in the bread pudding, but not actual bread. No, that gets thrown out.
Um, until I started working there! I basically shrieked in horror and asked them to let me take it.
So the bread above is the soft rolls. They were still perfectly good and soft, it’s just not bakery policy to serve them a second day. And some internet research led me to a food pantry that is located literally two blocks away from the bakery. Score!
I took the bread there Monday morning (still soft) and they gladly took it. Furthermore, I told my manager about it and she could not believe there was a food pantry so close to the bakery- so we will now be making regular donations! Wow I feel really good for having done that, and it goes to show you- sometimes all you have to do is a little bit of research to do a lot of good. A Google search for “food pantry Annandale” took all of two minutes!
So all that being said, they’ll be getting soft rolls, croissants, etc. However, on Saturday, the baguettes I saved… those were legit stale.
Soooooo some of them got ground up in the food processor to make homemade bread crumbs:
This was… a mixed bag. Some got pulverized, some are still in chunks. Do people have a good technique for making homemade breadcrumbs?
The rest, however, became something I’ve always loved and was recently reminded of in Anna’s beautiful posts about Italy: panzanella!
This made for a lovely peaceful Saturday night- I came home from 10 and a half hours of work to my sister and her boyfriend vegetating in our house, which she kind of trashed… so I calmly went for a walk, and when I came back they were going out! So I cleaned the house and made panzanella. It was kind of perfect, sadly enough.
So panzanella is Bread. Salad. Like, how can you go wrong?
Here are the basic ingredients:
1. Bread: I broke my bread into small hunks (this was like two biggish hard rolls and 1/4 of a baguette? So maybe… 7 or 8 ounces?) and tossed it with olive oil and salt and pepper and let it toast in my toaster oven, tossing occasionally, until golden brown.
2. Veg: Tomatoes are the obvious choice. I chunked up two massive wonderfully weird looking heirloom guys. I have to say, though, that this recipe is probably conducive to creativity- I’ll bet roasted red peppers, for example, would be blissful.
3. Herbs: I used some basil, the obvious choice, but I also used a bunch of oregano just because it is completely invading our herb box on the deck and I want to give all the other guys a chance. Happily, it is delicious in this, and I recommend it.
4. Dressing: I used just a wee drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar. Remember that the bread is already tossed in oil, and that the tomatoes break down and release their acidic juices. Err on the side of dressing less, at least at first, cause you don’t want it mushy and wet. That being said, my mom tasted hers, went, “It’s good!”, and then drizzled on several tablespoons of olive oil. To each her own. My mom is the queen of monounsaturated fatty acids (I shared that story, right, how one morning she was like “Hm, what shall I take for lunch at work? Here’s an ENTIRE AVOCADO!” Which she then ate with a cup of soup. Oh Mom.
Finished panzanella (there’s this magic stuff—kind of like the crushed chips at the bottom of the bag that is little crumbs of bread and olive oil and tomato juice and herbs and WOW IT’S GOOD.)
To accompany, in the protein department, I got out the rest of a frozen packet of ground beef (about 10 ounces, leftover from the almost meatless sloppy joes), and made me some meatballs!
They utilized several things.
To bind, eeeeeeeeshsocute, check out our green eggs!
My love affair with farmer’s market eggs definitely continues.
And to flavor and moisten, the last of some dried sundried tomatoes (I rehydrated them and chopped them up and also added some of the juice they made).
I also added some of the homemade breadcrumbs. More invading oregano. Salt, pepper, a minced clove of garlic, Worcestershire. Blended by hand, the way God intended.
My Greek grandmother would’ve fried them in olive oil, but I’m broiled them, and I’m glad I did or I would have missed the wonderful delicacy of the texture.
I really loved the almost meatless sloppy joes the other week but there were so many other flavors and textures going on in there that it was hard to evaluate the grass-feed beef on its own.
However, this was pretty pure and unadulterated, so I can wholeheartedly say that in addition to doing a favor to the environment and avoiding lethal e. coli, in buying grass fed beef (this was Trader Joe’s brand) I also gained extra deliciousness in my life!
The meat was wonderfully tender (the texture was like it had never been frozen) and very flavorful- it didn’t have some of the acridity I associate with ground beef at times.
And yknow, I fancy that my additions made it yummy too. Sun dried tomatoes FTW. I can’t get enough of ‘em. With the panzanella, it was a wonderful Sunday dinner.
Going back to the bread, as y’all can see, I am pretty passionate about food waste. I think it’s disgusting that there are hungry people, all over the world and all over our own country, and that there are bakeries and restaurants and millions of establishments who throw perfectly good food away. And that includes individual people, too! Don’t buy a pound of deli meat if you eat one turkey sandwich a week. Don’t buy four bags of perishable vegetables unless you’re planning to make soup.
What do you do to prevent food waste? Have you taken any action in your own community?